For over 20 years, Washington, D.C. has been home to Reel Affirmations: International LGBT Film Festival. This summer, the film festival returns with a diverse group of features, documentaries, and short films. The Gala Hispanic/Tivoli Theatre will play host to the three-day event.
Sponsored by The DC Center, this year’s festival is spearheaded by Kimberley Bush, the Program and Film Festival Director. Since its inception, Bush eagerly started her “love affair” with Reel Affirmations by becoming a volunteer and organizing women and POC film programming. Now, she is responsible for reintroducing more LGBTQ films to the community.
The festival’s opening night kickoffs on August 28 with the screening of While You Weren’t Looking, a film that focuses on the lives and relationships of gays and lesbians in South Africa.
“It’s a stunning, memorable and challenging film set within the changing landscape of post-Apartheid South African politics,” says Bush. “Lifestyles are portrayed through three queer relationships: a successful black real estate woman who is cheating on her white wife, their bohemian daughter dating a gender non-confirming woman in the Soweto ghettos, and a white male queer studies professor pining for his black male lover from the revolutionary days.”
Bush is adamant on making this year’s film festival memorable for attendees. In order to accomplish this, she has put together a Film Festival Steering Committee (FFSC) consisting of over 15 volunteers. The FFSC is responsible for community partnerships, filmmaker hospitality, marketing, community outreach, fundraising, and special events.
“I thank the community for all of their support and believing in Reel Affirmations,” says Bush. “Without the community we would not be the success we are.”
And, the films don’t end with the festival. Reel Affirmations produces a monthly series called Reel Affirmations XTRA. According to Bush, the July and October screenings are “not to be missed women’s films.”
Bush feels that it is important for the queer women’s community to be a part of this year’s film festival. “I believe that seeing and hearing images of stories that reflect our community is vital to our health, growth and overall prosperity. These stories can provide inspiration, affirmation and hope. The queer women’s community has so few cultural outlets that are affordable, accessible, safe, fun, affirming, educational and stimulating. Reel Affirmations strives to create such a space.”
Reel Affirmations: LGBT International Film Festival takes place August 28 – August 30, 2015 at Gala Hispanic/Tivoli Theatre located at 33331 4th St.NW, Washington, D.C. For more information or to purchase tickets, visit www.reelaffirmations.org.
August 29, 7 p.m.
Based on the classic lesbian novel Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, this drama stars Latina lesbian supermodel Patricia Velasquez.
The film centers on Liz (Velasquez), a hardcore party girl and womanizer. Every year she celebrates her birthday with her friends at a Caribbean beach retreat. However, this year is different. When a young woman outsider arrives, Liz’s friends dare her to seduce her. But the ingénue is deeply wounded by the recent death of her young son, and nothing turns out as expected.
August 29, 1 p.m.
Four decades after the Stonewall riots, life is dramatically different for LGBTQ people. We used to be identified by our oppression. But who are we now? Are we still a community?
The city that gave birth to the gay movement has changed, too. What are the untold stories of a culture that thrives in every borough and every corner of the city? Queer City explores these and other questions through the lives of a highly diverse group of men and women living in New York City.
Queer City incorporates both the routine and the extraordinary to create a remarkable chronicle of queer citizens in a time of change. Often hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking, Queer City will introduce you to stories and people you will never forget.
August 29, 3 p.m.
Part of the women’s shorts screening, Secrets and Toys has diversity both in front of, and behind the camera. The story is fun and digestable while still challenging the way we often think about ourselves, and the people in our lives.
Everyone has that something about them that they are afraid to share with others, especially people they love. The characters in this story learn that by embracing their own truth they free others to do the same.
August 29, 3 p.m.
Also part of the women’s shorts series, She Said She Said stars Marisa Tomei and Elodie Bouchez as a lesbian couple in the midst of divorce. The seven-minute film was made to promote the Co Spring 2013 collection—a line founded by film producer Stephanie Danan and screenwriter Justin Kern. The couple is in mediation to divvy up their possessions from puppies to cars. The two smoulder on screen, and that’s when things get interesting.
August 30, 3 p.m.
This documentary goes behind the scenes of one of the oldest queer youth theaters in America. Boston-based True Colors: OUT Youth Theater transforms daily struggles into performance for social change.
The film introduces a transgender teenager kicked out of her house, a devout Christian challenging his church’s homophobia, and a girl who prefers to wear boys’ clothing even as she models dresses on the runway. When bombs explode outside their building, the troupe becomes even more determined to share their stories of love to help heal their city.